The European Union released its new EU Central Asia Strategy earlier this year, covers cooperation between the EU and Central Asia across a wide number of areas: coping with climate change and development of renewable energy resources; security issues; border control and harmonizing customs and transit regulations to speed up trade between countries and between Europe and Asia; student and professor exchanges among academic institutions; improving the human rights situation in Central Asia; and other matters.
The EU so far is allotting only some 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) for this strategy, which will run through the next decade. So funds that will be spent need to be specially targeted to get the maximum return.
The seemingly indefatigable EU special representative for Central Asia, Peter Burian, spearheaded efforts to prepare the strategy, but many other people played a role in helping devise the plan and ensuring it was flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions, seen and unforeseen, in the coming years.
One such group of people worked on the EU-sponsored Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations (SEnECA) program, which brought representatives from European and Central Asian countries together to discuss key areas of cooperation between the two regions.
SEnECA just had its final meeting in Brussels on November 14-15 after nearly two years of work.
RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the EU's Central Asia Strategy and SEnECA's role in it.
All our guests were speaking from Brussels just after the conference concluded. The co-head of SEnECA, Michael Kaeding, professor for European integration and European Union politics in the political science department of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, took part. Also joining was Mirzokhid Rakhimov from the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan. Sultan Akimbekov, the director of the Institute of Asian Studies in Kazakhstan, participated. And I played a very small part in SEnECA, so I made some comments also.